What is an SEO audit, how should it be done and what to expect from the person doing it?

2 October 2018

You’ve probably heard about SEO optimization. You know you use it to position websites in Google for certain phrases. You might have heard about the important of links, the differences in white hat SEO and black hat SEO. And you know there is such a thing as an SEO audit. If you want to have it done on your website to start your adventure with positioning this article is perfect for you. You’ll learn what to expect from the auditor. It will allow you to make sure everything is done professionally, by someone who really knows how to do it.

An SEO audit is a service as old as positioning itself. It started when first search engines appeared and websites started to compete for positions and traffic. Algorithms were simple at the beginning, so making sure the website was perfect for them was simple.

But now? Now there are over 200 factors that influence our positioning. It’s impossible to position a website according to all of them, especially since the most important one of them is being useful. You articles might not be perfect from the point of view of a search engine, but as long as people read them and find them useful you will position high – although it can’t happen if you are not visible on the first result page. That’s where positioning comes in.

But, let’s go back to the SEO audit. It should be treated as en expert service, where you receive an in-depth report. An important document for the whole business since it will allow you to create a development strategy.

What is an SEO audit

This question may seem simple, but it’s what you really should start with. There really isn’t one defined standard of an SEO audit. There’s no real template. In this article we will try to carefully define it’s basic meaning. SEO is at its core a tool that allows you to adjust the code, its surroundings, structure and website content to the search engine algorithms.

The problem is, no one knows exactly what the factors are. Google doesn’t hand out manuals so getting to know what works and what doesn’t can really only happen through trial and error.

Important rules to follow when contacting an SEO auditor

1. You should expect a list of areas your auditor will check as well as an explanation. You’re not the expert, you don’t have to know what all that means. It’s his job to make sure you understand everything. A website or an e-store is usually the basics of conducting business on-line. That’s why any change should be clearly defined in the context of goals and business effects.

2. Ask your auditor if he will only show you the mistakes or will he also include some pointers on how to repair them.

3. Find out what form will the report have. Make sure you know if you’ll get a document with a commentary on the problems or just a list of tasks for a copywriter/developer.

4. Make sure it’s possible to get a consultation after the audit ends and you get your report. It’s possible some things will not be clear to you and will need an additional explanation. Find out if this kind of service is included in the price or do you have to pay additionally.

5. Find out what will the auditor need from you. You might have to give him access to Google Analytics tools or Google Search Console.

6. Find out how long will the audit take and don’t plan any changes on your website during that time.

Unofficially there’s more than 200 factors that influence a website’s position. Some companies create detailed reports on it every year. However, they still make sure to punctuate that they only show things they correlated with high positions and that doesn’t prove anythings. It might not work. So how do you create SEO standards, when there’s no good way to measure it all?

It’s not an easy task. Even though the discussion on which factors are important never ends, the truth is – there are some areas that determine visibility in search results. And most experts agree what those areas are. So, a good SEO audit should really take those areas into account.

What should be analyzed during an SEO audit?

During the audit, the auditor should first check if the website indexes at all and if so to what extend. He should check if good parts of the website get indexed and if they are presented in a way that’s attractive for the user. He needs to analyze CTR, the position of the main page as well as other pages of the website in the search results. Look at key words, the website uses and which one of them is the highest rating one. Look at the key phrases objectively – it won’t do a customer much good to have a website that’s high in the search results for one keyword if few people use it.

An SEO audit allows you to see if the website indexes at all for certain phrases or if you should make some changes in your positioning and optimization. Next you should look at the content itself – it influences which phrases the website is indexed for.

Technical aspects are also important – they determine how Google judges the website quality. You should know Google publishes many practical advice on the subject of website optimization.

However, you should remember that those pointers are not perfect. Living by them does not guarantee your website will be visible in search results. Those pointers are only there to make sure websites are developed according to what Mountain View engineers want.

So, an SEO audit only checks to what extent your website is in accordance with Google standards. A practical experience of an expert is very important here. An audit report may contain good advice that tell you to ignore some of Google pointers, however those pointers should be explained in detail, so you know the decision is right.

A list of most important areas analyzed during an SEO audit

A complete audit should first and foremost answer the 13 questions below:

1. Does the website index properly? We should make sure all the pages we want seen show up in the search results.

2. What phrases does the website index for?

3. Does the website content strengthen the phrases we want to index for the most?

4. does inside linking strengthen the most important pages of the website?

5. Does the website structure prevent duplicate content? And does the website have content on similar subjects that index for the same keywords?

6. Does the website have content that can be indexed for a so called long tail?

7. Are URLs well constructed and strengthen optimization for important keywords?

8. Do page titles contain important keywords and do they display well in search results?

9. Does the website display well on mobile devices?

10. Are there any problems with security on the website?

11. Does the website load fast enough?

12. Are there any problems with Google filters on the website?

13. Are there any outside links directing to the website and what is their influence on its positioning.

There are different SEO tactics – it’s good to also analyze brand traffic. It means quarries like: Dell, Dell computer,Dell opinions etc. Analyzing content for long tail is also a good idea.

Meta descriptions also play a big role. They are the little bits of text you see under a link in Google. Their contents don’t have a direct effect on positioning, but can influence and encourage someone to click the link. Good audit looks looks at more than just key factors that influence position, but also focuses on things that influence organic traffic on the website.

The importance of an SEO audit report

When we order an SEO audit, we should pay attention to what the audit will cover but also what will be included in the report. If you get a report with just a few statistics, little data from external tools and a few pointers saying to change some titles or URLs it means the auditor didn’t really do a good job. He didn’t take the time to get to know your website and its Google indexing.

Without that it’s hard to understand the website statistics, and that’s crucial to create a good optimization and development scenario. You need to know that optimizing a large website is not only about improving its technical aspects. Often it means recreating the website from scratch and changing the content of all pages. An auditor should show you the most important priorities in optimization, because not all mistakes have the same impact on website visibility. Sometimes improving one element yields better results than improving five others.

Free SEO audit – is it worth it?

Free SEO audits come in two kinds. One: made by software that checks the technical correctness of the website. It’s very inaccurate since it doesn’t check a lot of important things and son’t show you the direction of development. Two: they are made by SEO experts – often offered as a free addition to a positioning service and often the cheap ones.

Those types of audits are not in-depth ones and the reports lack a lot of important information. In both cases aside from information that you have to improve the chosen element we don’t get much. We don’t get clear pointers on how to develop the website, how to change it etc. A free SEO audit should be treated as fast pointers to what you can improve on on the spot, but it won’t help you optimize the website. It’s also important to mention an array of tools (free as well as paid ones) that support creating SEO audits. They allow you to generate many useful reports.

Free tools:

Google search console and Google Analytics

Meta forensics

Siteliner

Paid:

Screaming frog SEO spider tool

Senuto

How to find a good SEO auditor?

An SEO audit is basis for making important changes to your website, so it’s important to formulate clear conclusions and to make sure the line of communication between an auditor and recipient is always open. Talking about the most important things with an auditor at the beginning of your cooperation will let you judge if they are a good specialist who wants to help your business or if he is a fraud or an amateur.

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